This post is also available in: French
Happy Valentine’s Day! I wish you a beautiful day of love and light. Stay safe online dating or whatever you decide to do on this special day. Dating apps can be fun but watch out for scammers.
Each year, the Valentine’s Day season spikes an increase in the number of singles swiping and matching to find “the one.” With love in the air, it’s no surprise that these numbers would rise. Many people are looking for their soulmate, and being single around this holiday can be difficult.
In today’s digital world, online dating apps make the process of meeting someone more convenient than more traditional methods. They are fun and easy to use. For introverts and busy individuals alike, dating apps are particularly attractive because you can meet someone from the comfort of your own home and on your own time. And the online dating stigma isn’t what it used to be.
However, as great as dating apps can be, they should always be used with precaution. Alarming statistics have come forward recently that show the importance of protecting yourself against the potential dangers of online dating.
It doesn’t all have to be scary though. By taking precaution and being responsible you can have a great experience with online dating. Protect yourself against cybercriminals and cyberstalkers by following these 5 tips:
1. Protect Your Profile
While it’s important to give your potential suitors a glimpse into your personality, hobbies and basic information about yourself, you should always keep it brief. Do not overshare. It doesn’t take very much information for a cybercriminal to hack you. Even linking your other social profiles like Facebook can give them access to more information. Since 2015, Americans and Canadians have lost approximately $1 billion dollars to romance scams. This alarming statistic proves the importance of protecting your identity and digital presence.
Although using an app for dating sites can be convenient, it can also be an easy way to become a target for viruses and identity theft. Make sure not to use these sites on unsecured wireless networks, especially without antivirus software. These networks are found in public areas and are often swarmed with criminals waiting to find a way into your phone to collect data. Consider installing a mobile VPN that will encrypt your data by changing your IP address, providing you with more of a safe online dating experience. Then you’ll feel comfortable being able to use these sites without fearing any danger.
2. Do a Background Check
The best way to prepare yourself for your date is to know as much as you can about the person you will be going on the date with. A simple search online of their full name will provide you with a bit of an inside look as to who they are. If anything is alarming or sticks out to you, take this into consideration. For example, does a completely different person appear than the photo they have on their online dating profile?
Did you know that 1 out of every 10 dating profiles is fake? Often, people will steal photos and information from someone else’s profile to build their own. Their goal is to create a trusting relationship with you to eventually steal your personal information or money. Scary, right? This is known as catfishing. Reverse image searches will reveal if this is the case. Other signs to be aware of are:
- They never want to show their face to you
- The relationship advances quickly
- They simply seem too good to true
3. Safe Online Dating: Take it Slow
With the nature of dating apps, it’s common for a relationship to move fast. Know that it is okay to take things slow – this is not a bad thing. There can actually be many benefits in doing so. Not only do you get to take time to get to know each other through communicating virtually for longer but it’s also a good way to build trust.
After you’ve communicated via chat for long enough, then you can consider moving to a phone or video call. Always make the speed of progressing the relationship at a rate that is comfortable for you both. If you’ve been hurt in the past, it’s natural you’d need extra time to dive into a new relationship. If the person you are talking to is truly interested in you, they will understand this.
4. Notify Someone Before Going on Your First Date
When you are ready to go on the first date with this person, make a plan that you feel comfortable with. For safe online dating, a public place is always best for a first interaction.
The most important part of your plan is to notify at least one friend or family member of where you will be going that day. Discreetly go to the bathroom to text or call them to quickly check in on whether everything is going alright during the date. Practicing first date safety will also help ensure that you have a great time.
5. Trust Your Gut
Do not be afraid to ask questions. You’re on this date to get to know each other, so take advantage of the opportunity. If red flags come up or if you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to leave. Trust whatever your gut is telling you. Even if you just don’t feel a connection with someone, that’s okay.
Also, if you have to get up during the date, do not leave your personal belongings. You wouldn’t want to come back to the table to a missing wallet and no date sitting there or even having them snoop through your phone.
The Takeaway about Being Safe Online Dating
Don’t let this information scare you away from giving love on the Internet a chance. Many users find love through dating apps each year. In fact, 20% of all committed relationships currently started online and 17% of couples who married in the last year met online. You never know, you could be next!
Are there other red flags to watch for that haven’t been mentioned here? Have you tried online dating and, if so, did you feel safe using the apps and meeting someone in person?